Mother Ginger's dress has been replaced a few times over the years, and Brightwell's friend, Kevin Tucker, made the current one.
The Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov ballet, which has a score by Tchaikosky, opens with a party scene and then evolves into a dream. Brightwell plays a grandmother to start and then reappears as the larger-than-life Mother Ginger.
It all starts with a rolling contraption - Brightwell calls it his Macy's float - that is built every year by stagehands who are members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees union. This year the team included Ansel, Randy Pauley, Chris Fleshman and Ryan Fletcher.
All have a role on show dates, too, because the rig that holds Brightwell also holds 10 young dancers who hide under his copious skirts and tumble out.
"Once that thing is loaded, it's like 600 pounds total weight," Ansel said. A rope runs across the stage, where stagehands can get the rig started with a gentle pull. Meantime, Ansel ducks down behind Brightwell's skirt to maneuver him from behind.
It may not require the same delicate footwork that you'll see from professional ballet dancers Rhiannon Turley, Olivier Wecxsteen, Oleksandr Vykhrest, Piotr Stanczyk and Sonia Rodriguez, but Ansel and Brightwell say their dance is coordinated, nonetheless.
Brightwell perches atop a ladder inside his costume atop the rolling platform, and his arms are above the heavily constricted skirts. Any unexpected movement and he really has no way to balance.
"I get it out to center stage and wiggle him a little bit," Ansel said. "We try to make it smooth."
"I hold his life in my hands," he added, laughing.
Brightwell said he has a blast doing the role, which doesn't require much physical effort on his part. And Ansel, whose job often finds him rigging lights, laying floors or installing sets for concerts and plays, likes the variety.
"It's a really great nice break for me," he said.
Contact writer Monica Orosz at mon...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4830.